Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gone Fishin'

When my brother Andrew visited us before shipping out to Afghanistan, one of the things he wanted to do was deep sea fishing. Most of the fishing guides required you to charter an entire boat, but I was able to find one through that accepted singles.

So on a Saturday we roused ourselves at 5:30 am and caught a taxi to the Rose Bay wharf, where the boat would pick us up. There were about 20 other people hanging around too, and I assumed they were all on the same fishing trip. After about 15 minutes a beautiful power catamaran pulled up to the dock. Pretty swanky fishing boat, I thought. People started piling on; I asked the deckhand if this was the fishing boat. "No," he said, "This is for whale watching."

So that boat pulled away and set off without us. About half an hour later another nice looking boat pulled up. This boat had several fishing rods so I figured this had to be ours. A number of people started boarding; once again I asked if this was our fishing boat. "No," the captain replied, "This is a private charter. But I think we passed yours on the way here; it's a real wreck."


He was right. Ours finally arrived. It looked about 30 years past its prime. Andrew and I boarded; there were about ten of us in total.

The captain had a thick Scottish accent and was missing his front teeth. His first mate, Les, who was the only mate, rounded out the crew; he was also missing his front teeth.

After everyone boarded the captain came out of the steerhouse. "Here's your safety lesson, so listen up," he declared. "Toilet's in the back, fishing is on this side of the boat, and spewing is on that side of the boat. Don't spew in the toilet." And that was it…nothing about life jackets or what to do if you fell overboard.

We chugged out into a rolling, grey sea. Occasionally a light rain added to the merry weather. Once we arrived in a place the captain deemed good fishin', he stopped the engine and said we could start fishing. The boat violently rocked back and forth as the waves started hitting its sides rather than its bow. But it was a good spot and other people on the boat started pulling in fish quickly.

Andrew and I spent the first hour without a catch, though the fish seemed to be making off with our bait pretty well. We moved to a new spot a few hundred meters away and our luck turned -- we were catching fish...albeit ugly, exotic looking fish that looked they'd been exposed to industrial grade pollutants and radiation. Every time I pulled out a fish I asked Les what it was and if it was any good.  Les' standard response was "Oh, that one -- good eating." I was skeptical.

Andrew spent about half his time untangling his line from those of our companions. That's one of the disadvantages of having 10 people line one side of a boat all fishing. When someone asked about fishing on the other side, the captain responded that then there's a risk that lines become tangled from both sides, under the boat, and can screw up the propeller.

Andrew and I caught seven fish, but a couple were too small and were tossed back in the water. We took our five keepers back home where we planned on making them for dinner.

I took one out of the bag and put in on the cutting board, pulled a knife from the drawer, and attempted to fillet the fish (which were already dead). The knife didn't make a scratch. I tried all the other knives in the kitchen. Nothing. They were too dull to cut fish and we didn't have a sharpener.

Andrew suggested using a meat cleaver to chop the fish's head off and I gave him the honor of trying that out. He raised his hand with the cleaver in it and smashed it down on the fish. Besides some viscera that splattered around the kitchen, the fish remained intact.

We ended up throwing the fish out and going out for Mexican where Sharon reprimanded us for killing the fish for no reason.

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